Italy is not only home to some culinary masterpieces such as pizza, pasta, or Italian seasoning, but to some of the finest alcoholic drinks as well. One of those is Campari.
Campari is a popular alcoholic drink, mainly used in cocktails. Actually, it is a bitter Italian aperitif made from a blend of various spices and herbs. It has a beautiful red color and a solid bitter flavor similar to orange, and an alcohol content of 20.5-28% ABV.
This drink was developed in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in Novara, Italy. To this day, it is unknown what the ingredients of this mysterious drink are. All we know is that it contains alcohol and water.
The company that produces it never really revealed what those ingredients are. It is only noted that alcohol and water are blended and then infused with aromatic plants, bitter herbs, and fruits.
Nevertheless, this didn’t change the fact that this drink is very popular among many drinkers and those people who like a good cocktail, especially famous cocktails such as Negroni alongside equal parts gin and sweet vermouth.
There are also some other cocktail recipes like the Americano cocktail, Campari spritz, Boulevardier cocktail, etc.
But, if you for some reason can’t use Campari for your favorite Negroni or some other type of cocktail, there are some fine Campari substitutes. In this article, I will present to you a list of the 13 finest Campari alternatives that won’t disappoint your cocktail.
What Are The Best Campari Substitutes?
Here is the ultimate list of 13 great alternatives for Campari.
The first on my list of 13 Campari substitutes is Aperol. It is an Italian bitter that is also used as an aperitif before a meal. It is very popular as a substitute for Campari in the Negroni cocktail.
But, you need to know that there are some major differences between these two. The first major difference is their color. Unlike Campari, which is bright red in color, Aperol is orange.
Another one is related to the flavor profile. As I already said, Campari possesses a bitter flavor, and on the other side, Aperol is much sweeter and has a citrus finish.
And the last one is related to the alcohol content. Aperol contains only about 11% ABV, i.e. twice less than Campari.
2. Red Amaro
Red amaro found its place high on the list. It is actually the cousin of Campari since they are part of the same family. Both are Italian bitter liqueurs.
There are a few types of red amaro that can be considered as a good substitute for Campari.
These include Aperix Aperitivo and Knight Gabriello Rosso Amaro. Since amaro typically contains a bitter-sweet flavor, it can be a decent alternative for Campari. It also has herbal notes similar to Campari.
When it comes to alcohol content, it typically ranges from 18% to 40% and Knight Gabriello Rosso Amaro is closest in that term since its ABV is about 25%.
3. Contratto Bitter
Contratto bitter is another Italian drink made from an Italian brandy base alongside natural carrot and red beet extracts. It has a fine bright red color and some beautiful botanical aromas, something similar to Campari.
It also possesses that citrusy bittersweetness that can simulate Campari to a great extent. It can be a great alternative to your favorite Negroni cocktail because it will provide you with rich flavors alongside sweet vermouth and gin.
4. Don Ciccio & Figli Luna Aperitivo
This is actually the Washington D.C.-based Don Ciccio & Figli in the form of its Luna Aperitivo. This one is a dark red-colored liqueur, contrary to bright red Campari.
It is bittersweet when it comes to taste, but the bitterness is much more emphasized. It possesses that fruity flavor that comes from prickly pear and orange and some strong herbaceous notes that are very similar to those of Campari.
Although I would say that there are much better Campari alternatives for the Negroni cocktail than this bitter liqueur, it can still serve as a decent substitute.
5. Luxardo Bitter
Another bitter liqueur, this one is made by separate infusion of aromatic plants, citrus fruits, and bitter herbs in water and alcohol. Such infusions are blended together before being filtered and bottled in a maraschino liqueur bottle.
Just like Campari, it is bright red in color. It also possesses herbal and citrusy aromas alongside gentian, wormwood, marjoram, bitter-orange, and rhubarb flavors. Luxardo bitter can be a great Campari substitute when it comes to cocktails.
That is especially the case with Americano and Negroni cocktails.
6. Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano Rosso
This drink that possesses such a long name is an artisanal aperitif with a wine base that originates from the Alto-Adige region of Italy.
It is mostly made from Trebbiano and it possesses a recognizable bitterness and sweetness with some herbal notes.
That bitterness predominantly comes from notes of citrus peel. This one can be a wonderful option for many types of cocktails including Negroni. If you decide to incorporate it into Negroni instead of Campari, I would recommend you mix it with less juniper-forward gin and drier red vermouth.
7. Tempus Fugit Gran Classico
Gran Classico originates from Turin, but in 1925, its recipe was sold to Tempus Fugit who was the Swiss distiller at that time. Since then, this drink has been called Tempus Fugit Gran Classico.
Tempus Fugit Gran Classico does not possess the same color as Campari since it has a golden-amber color.
When it comes to flavor and aroma, this aperitif liqueur is somewhat bittersweet from orange peel, gentian root, and wormwood mingled with vanilla and rhubarb.
Hyssop is also one of the herbs that contribute to the flavor profile of this drink to some extent.
You can sip Gran Classico alone, or you can blend it with sweet vermouth and gin. In both cases, it will provide you with an amazing flavor and a complex finish.
8. Lockhouse Distillery Ibisco Bitter Liqueur
This one, as the name suggests, was made by the so-called Lockhouse Distillery in Buffalo, New York. The interesting thing is that they were inspired by Campari when they were making their own bitter liqueur.
They made it with a corn base mixed with coriander and grapefruit peels. The huge difference is that Campari is orange-based and that makes a huge difference in the flavor profile.
The great thing about this bitter liqueur is that it is very cocktail-friendly. This means that you can make your favorite Negroni cocktail using this one instead of Campari. It won’t be a classical Campari cocktail, but its sweet and savory flavors will be able to compensate for it properly.
9. Meletti 1870
Another bitter Italian liqueur on this list is Meletti 1870. It is made by blending bitter orange, sweet orange, spices, and herbs that are then distilled with pure spirit.
That combination provides you with a slightly bitter flavor, but at the same time very refreshing. It also possesses some sweet notes which provide a bittersweet citrus flavor profile that is ideal for many types of cocktails.
People prefer it more in Americano cocktails, but it can be a decent substitute for the Campari in Negroni cocktail as well.
10. Leopold Bros Aperitivo
Leopold Bros Aperitivo is the classical American spirit that has the perfect combination of sweet, bitter, and citrusy flavors. It is very similar to Camberi since it has very similar ingredients.
One of the main herbs used for making Leopold Bros Aperitivo is the so-called hyssop and it is the herb used to flavor vermouth. The distillery that makes this drink uses cochineal, a crushed beetle, to give this drink the red flavoring.
It is an interesting thing that is cochineal as well, before transferring to artificial dyes for coloring.
So, as you can see, there are many similarities between these two drinks and it is not difficult to conclude that they can be easily replaced by one another.
11. Faccia Brutto Aperitivo
Facia Brutto is an Italian name and literally translated into English means “ugly face”, which is quite funny. These types of liqueurs were crafted by chef Patric Miller.
He experimented with a few herbs and through a two-week maceration of star anise, gentian, kola nut, and other herbs got a neutral grain spirit that he called Faccia Brutto.
When it comes to the flavor profile, the Facia Brutto Aperitivo is not too sweet or neither too bitter. That means it is something between Campari and Aperol which makes it a perfect alternative.
12. Mommenpop Blood Orange
Mommenpop was created by Samantha Sheehan who wanted to create an alternative to Campari that is less sweet. She got a light, barely bitter, and prickling drink that possesses notes of fresh grapefruit rind and cherry blossom.
Mommenpop is one very easy drink with only 17% ABV that is very refreshing and feels like you are eating actual grapefruit with the rind on it.
It can serve as a decent Campari substitute, just it is a bit looser than Campari itself.
13. Lyres Non-Alcoholic Italian Orange Spirit
And finally, here is one non-alcoholic Campari substitute that possesses a similar flavor profile. It was crafted to simulate a bitter orange aperitif like Campari.
This one has blood orange and red citrus notes, as well as the dryness of Maraschino cherries. Experts suggest that you combine it with tonic water and soda when consuming it.
If you want to make a non-alcoholic cocktail, you can use it in cocktails such as Negroni and Americano. Negroni cocktail is a little too sweet when this non-alcoholic beverage is added to it.
So, it is a much better idea to use it in an Americano cocktail.
Find The Finest Campari Alternative
Finding the best Campari substitute for your favorite cocktail is half of the work. In this article, I tried my best to provide you with the 13 finest Campari alternatives that you can find.
I also noted some important pieces of information related to each of the options, so it is only up to you to carefully read everything about them and decide which one suits your cocktail the best.